The Associated Press reports:
What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.
According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered just over a mile across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.
A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story but said that there were unlikely to be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invasion.
“We’ve spoken to the authorities in Liechtenstein and it’s not a problem,” Daniel Reist told The Associated Press.
Of course, we may well wonder how Liechtenstein was supposed to defend itself, had it wanted to, given that it has no army of its own, and relies on Switzerland (“The giant in the west”) for defense.
But Le réveil des marmottes reminds us that this isn’t the first time this has happened (translation below):
En décembre 1985, la Suisse avait déjà attaqué par erreur son pacifique et minuscule voisin. Lors d’un exercice de l’artillerie de l’armée suisse, des roquettes ont changé de trajectoire et sont tombées dans la forêt de Bannwald dans la principauté du Liechtenstein. La magnifique forêt, un site protégé, a pris feu. Explication: «Un violent orage d’hiver a dévié les roquettes qui se sont abattues sur le territoire du Liechtenstein…» L’agression involontaire avait provoqué un incident diplomatique entre le ministère suisse de la Défense et le Liechtenstein. La Suisse a finalement dû payer plusieurs millions de Francs suisses en dédommagement…
(In December 1985, Switzerland had already attacked its peace-loving and minuscule neighbor. During an artillery exercise by the Swiss army, several rockets changed trajectory and landed in the forest of Bannwald in the principality of Liechtenstein. The magnificent forest, a protected area, caught fire. Explanation: “A violent winter storm caused the rockets to deviate from their trajectory and land on Liechtenstein’s territory.” This involuntary aggression caused a diplomatic incident beween the Swiss defense ministry and Liechtenstein. Switzerland finally had to pay several million Swiss francs in damages.
Hm. Maybe that’s worth trying in Iraq: “Oops! Sorry, our soldiers and National Guardsmen were on maneuvers in Kentucky, and it was dark, and there was a storm, and the next thing we knew, they were in the middle of Baghdad. Um, we’ll just leave now, okay? Sorry, was that your mosque? We’ll pay for that.”